The Veg Plot

Bunch of fives: runner beans

runner beans rady for picking

Even in the most challenging of years for veg growing (ie. this year) you can always rely on your runner beans for a hearty harvest. Here are five reasons why we relish the runners…

1. Running rampant
Early in the year it seemed like the weather and slugs might get the better of the beans, causing us to buy some back up plants from the garden centre. But we didn’t need to worry. Following a brief improvement in conditions they shot up their canes with unstoppable haste and are now churning out pods at a relentless pace.

2. Visually effective
Our allotment is starting to look like an overgrown mess as the good-for-nothing weeds out-muscle the veg. But even they can’t keep up with a few wigwams of runners, which handily hide our weeding sins and stand proud like a beacon of green goodness from afar. And such is the attractiveness of their flowers – we have white and red varieties – folk in some countries (including America) don’t even bother eating the produce, preferring to grow them for their floral displays alone.

3. Happy pickers
From the first sighting of their dangling delights, to delving into the dense green foliage and coming away with an armful of beans, there are few more pleasurable things to pick than a bag of runners.

4. Healthy harvest
Runner beans are choc full of vitamins B and C and are also a good source of fibre. But don’t eat them raw as they contain small amounts of the poison lectin.

5. Chutney chomping
Runners are as useful in the kitchen as other beans, but are unrivalled in the legume kingdom as the main ingredient for the best allotment chutney. Perfect for that rampant glut…

Seeds sown: Runner bean white lady, Unwins
We also planted out a red flowering variety bought at a garden centre. These were unnamed, which is a shame because the pods are long, straight and plentiful


  • But I haven’t had A SINGLE BEAN!! Oh dear, I must be significantly worse at gardening than I thought I was. But then I did plant them in a narrow ditch next to a gastropod nursery (my greenhouse) that turned into a swamp throughout June and July, the poor dears, so maybe I just didn’t deserve them. Sniff.

    • I sympathise with your lack of beans. They are sensitive souls when small. Here’s a tip for next year – wrap a one foot strip of fleece around the base of your canes (keeping the beans on the inside). Gives them a bit of protection until they start wriggling skywards.

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